“Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” (Luke 11:34-36)
The Gospel lesson of the man born blind, John 9:1-38, offers us “insight” into how and why each and every human needs to see the Light of Christ in order to know God (see also my blog Before, The Man Born Blind, and After). Orthodox hymns based on the Gospel lesson reveal a great deal about the world we live in. “Seeing” is not just done with the eyes in our head, for we can also see (or understand) with the eyes of our heart. Those who see spiritually might be physically blind, but they are better off than those who see only with their eyes – especially true since divinity itself cannot be seen with the eyes. Three hymns based on the Gospel lesson of Christ’s healing the man who was born blind:
THE MAN ONCE BLIND SAW THAT THOSE WITH SIGHT WERE TRULY BLIND, DARKENED IN HEART, MIND AND SOUL, FOR WHEN THEY SAW THAT HE SUDDENLY WAS ABLE TO SEE, THEY QUESTIONED HIM WITH PERSISTENCE: HOW IS IT POSSIBLE FOR YOU NOW TO SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY? YOU WERE BLIND FROM BIRTH. YOU SAT ON THE ROADSIDES AND BEGGED! HE TOLD THEM WHO HAD GIVEN HIM SIGHT, AND IN THE MIDST OF THEIR DARKENED ASSEMBLY HE CONFESSED YOU: THE SON, BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER BEFORE THE AGES, WHO FASHIONED THE LIGHTS OF THE UNIVERSE, AND IN THESE LAST DAYS, IN YOUR COMPASSION, BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, FROM THE VIRGIN MARY, DAWNED UPON THE WORLD AS A MORTAL MAN!
In the hymn above we see that ‘blindness’ is not only physical – we can be blinded by being “darkened in heart, mind and soul.” While this describes an interior blindness in some individuals, we can suffer from a group blindness when we accept the viewpoint of an “darkened assembly” of people to whom we belong. “Group think” can blind us to what can be clearly see if we take off our social blinders. Christ not only created the sun, moon and stars to give physical light to the world, He is the Light of the world which has dawned for all people.
THE MASTER AND CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE MET THE MAN BORN BLIND WHO SIGHED AND SAID: I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE SEEN THE BRILLIANCE OF THE SUN, NOR HAVE I SEEN THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE MOON! THEREFORE I CRY OUT TO YOU, LORD BORN OF THE VIRGIN: AS YOU ENLIGHTEN THE WHOLE WORLD, IN YOUR MERCY, ALSO GIVE LIGHT TO YOUR SERVANT THAT I MAY BOW BEFORE YOU, CHRIST OUR GOD, AND SAY: GRANT ME FORGIVENESS OF MY SINS, FOR YOU ALONE ARE GOOD AND THE LOVER OF MANKIND!
Christ “enlightens the whole world” both with the sun He created at the beginning but also by Himself being the light of the world. We each need that light of Christ in our lives. A baby in the womb has eyes but lacks the light to see. When we are born into the world we can see the light of the sun, but in Christ we are born so that we see Christ as the light of the world. Our physical eyes do not allow us to see everything in this world. We need the spiritual light to see spiritual truth.
THE LAMP OF THE BODY IS THE EYE, AND YOU ARE YOURSELF THE SOUNDNESS OF HUMAN SIGHT, O WORD OF GOD! FROM A MIXTURE OF SPITTLE AND DUST YOU RESTORED THE BLIND MAN’S SIGHT! YOUR FINGERS ANOINTED HIS EYES: MUD BRINGS VISION INEFFABLE WONDER! FROM HIS BIRTH, HE NEVER SAW THE SUN, NOW HIS FIRST SIGHT IS YOU, THE SWEET SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, THE IMAGE OF THE FATHER, WHO CREATED US IN HIS BOUNDLESS COMPASSION.
The eye may be the lamp of the body but it is Christ Himself who is the “soundness of human sight.” We can see physically even without Christ, but our sight is made whole by Christ who takes away every kind of blindness including spiritual. Spiritually speaking, we have to remove from our eye every obstacle that we are able to remove so that Christ can heal us and give us that more perfect vision which allows the pure in heart to see God (Matthew 5:8).
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. (Luke 6:41-42)